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Aisam topples Minar

sports Updated: Nov 29, 2007 22:19 IST
Deepika Sharma
Deepika Sharma
Hindustan Times
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Just minutes before his quarterfinal match, Aisam Qureshi gazed at a red diary almost as if he was going through the gameplan he had chalked out to demolish top seed Ivo Minar at the $ 50,000 ONGC Challenger event. Whatever he read worked.

A 6-2, 6-3 victory over Czech Republic's Minar on Thursday would probably bring relief to the sixth-seeded Qureshi who had reached the quarters playing tough three-setters. World No. 109 Minar, who has won two titles - at Freudenstadt and Busan - from the three finals he has played on the ATP Challenger circuit this year, looked completely at sea as Qureshi delighted everyone with some awesome serves and volleys. In a one-sided match that lasted just over an hour, Qureshi hit 19 aces compared to his opponent's six.

From the word go, Qureshi enjoyed the game as much as the ones who were enjoying the winter sunshine. He fired ace after ace, making life miserable for Minar.

Minar's nervousness was inevitable when he was broken in the second game itself, allowing Qureshi to take a crucial 2-0 lead that set him right on track. World No. 148 Qureshi showed greater consistency with his backhand volleys and covered the ball brilliantly to hit some stupendous forehand winners down the line. Winning five doubles titles in four months with Indian Rohan Bopanna this year, Qureshi bagged the first set with ease.

For Minar, there was an air of futility surrounding him at the start of the second set. With his shoulders drooping and a blank look on his face, Minar had nothing to offer. Qureshi's flow was as smooth as a boat sailing in calm seas. He once again took the lead in the third game where he broke Minar to make it 3-1.

With the Czech winning just two more games after that, Qureshi kept the sub-continental dream alive, wrapping up the match in style - two fiery aces and a thumbs-up to his Indian mates watching from the stands.

He will now face eighth-seeded Adrian Cruciat of Romania who defeated Rik de Voest 6-3, 7-5.

The successful Indo-Pak duo Qureshi and Bopanna entered the doubles final defeating Monaco's Benjamin Balleret and Frenchman Sebastian De Chaunac 7-6 (10), 7-6 (4). They now play South Africans de Voest and Wesley Moodie in the final.